Maine has all kinds of festivals. If you like lobsters, there’s a festival for you. Blueberries? Blues music? Potato blossoms? Festivals for each. And if you’re one of the thousands who applied for a shot at a coveted moose permit, your own special festival is coming right up.
The Skowhegan Moose Festival will run throughout this weekend, with the annual moose permit lottery taking place at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds. State officials will read off the names of the 2,500 lucky hunters who’ll head afield this fall during one of four moose-hunting sessions.
This year’s season dates:
— Sept. 24-29, with 835 bull permits allotted in 11 of the state’s Wildlife Management Districts.
— Oct. 8-13, with 1,170 bull permits allotted in 18 WMDs.
— Oct. 22-27, with 450 cow permits allotted in six WMDs.
— Oct. 29-Nov. 24 (including Oct. 27 for Maine residents), with 45 permits allotted in two WMDs.
Kristina Cannon, executive director of Maine Street Skowhegan, is organizing the three-day festival. She said her organization submitted a 12-page proposal in hopes of landing the popular event, and is eager to showcase the town and all it has to offer.
“We really wanted to host the moose festival because we feel that these events will bring people into town and create positive economic impact,” Cannon said. “We’re really trying to become a destination for local food and outdoor recreation opportunities, and this is just a way to get people to come in and experience Skowhegan, spend some money and then make it a future destination.”
Maine’s modern moose hunt — the first since 1935 — began on an experimental basis back in 1980. That year, 39,269 Mainers applied for the drawing, seeking one of 700 available permits for a six-day September hunt.
Among the activities on tap for the Skowhegan Moose Festival: A craft beer and wild game pairing and the Moose on the Loose bed races on Friday, an attempt to set a world record for the most people calling moose at the same time and a concert featuring Bryan White and Phil Vassar on Saturday, and a breakfast on Sunday.
In addition, the DIF&W commissioner’s advisory board for the licensing of guides will hold a roundtable discussion at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Lyndall Smith Building. Also at 11:30 a.m., a media forum on the state’s new big game management plan will take place at Midway Hall. A moose calling competition will also be held.
For a complete schedule of the weekend’s events, go to the Skowhegan Moose Festival web page.
After a one-year hiatus, the hunt returned in 1982 and has been held annually ever since. The first lottery was held at the Bangor Auditorium in July of 1980. In subsequent years up until 1999, the permit lottery was held in Augusta. Beginning in 1999, state wildlife officials have turned the lottery into a traveling event that has most recently visited Greenville, Presque Isle, Bethel, Kittery and Caribou.
“We hold the drawing in different areas of the state so that people can have the opportunity to be part of it first hand,” Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioner Chandler Woodcock said in a news release. “Nothing pleases us more than to have members in the audience react to being selected.”
The BDN will be at the lottery and results will be available online at 6 p.m. on Saturday at bangordailynews.com
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